With a Clean Slate, It’s a New Era for the Flyers
First, it was Ron Hextall. Now, it's Dave Hakstol. With the GM and the head coach each being relieved of their duties and a new GM and interim head coach in place, it's a clean slate for the Flyers.
A clean slate for the orange and black rings in a new era for the team, one where they can hopefully move on from the identity of inconsistency. It won't happen overnight, but the many changes -- and the magnitude of them -- ushers in a new era for the team as they begin the road ahead under GM Chuck Fletcher and interim head coach Scott Gordon.
Paul Holmgren said it when Hextall was fired. Fletcher echoed it on Monday when Hakstol was fired. It was time for a new voice.
The Flyers already have their new voice in the GM's office. This is Fletcher's team moving forward. He can make roster decisions that will make this team better and return them to contention among the NHL's best. That doesn't happen overnight, but having Fletcher in place is a start.
Behind the bench, the Flyers have a new voice as well. Whether this becomes Scott Gordon's job or not, it is a change that was ultimately necessary, even more so after Hextall's departure. Gordon could be the temporary answer or the long-term answer. Fletcher is considering the latter, but it gives him a chance to put his guy behind the bench, a typical task for a new GM.
For now, the Flyers roster remains the same, but a new era is coming there too. The young players get a chance to make this their team. This is where Nolan Patrick, Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Oskar Lindblom and Travis Sanheim can rise above the rest and become the new core. Eventually the core of Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds will be a thing of the past, so a new group of young leaders has to emerge.
And of course, there was the arrival of the future in goal. Whether the timing is right or not, Carter Hart is here and he's going to play. He's already got his first win under his belt. There was something telling about that.
Internally, the moves made on Monday put a cap on a complete overhaul by management. It allows the team to put the mess behind him. There will be debates that the way things were handled was ridiculous and with complete and utter chaos, but the decisions were made and they are now a thing of the past. It's time to move forward.
For a change, Tuesday's game had the look of a team trying to move on and control their own destiny. There's nowhere else to hide. If things don't get better on the ice, the players will be the ones to pay for the mistakes this time.
Perhaps they were playing for their own jobs. Perhaps they were supporting their new goalie who is now in the NHL, ready or not. But it was a different look for a team that was lifeless over the weekend. That's a starting point.
The fans in attendance took notice too. The excitement that surrounded Hart's debut carried over to the rest of the team when they scored the first goal of the game, took a two-goal lead into the third, and held off Detroit in the closing seconds.
It's not going to all turnaround overnight, but for a change, there was a sense of newness and excitement to a Flyers home game on Tuesday, something that was lacking.
It's too late to turn back to the beginning of the season. The Flyers are in a hole in the standings and will need a lot to go right to climb out of it. But Tuesday's game was a start to better on-ice decisions, better game management, better all-around play and a chance to shed an old identity of passive play and inconsistent effort.
The Flyers have been offered a clean slate. New GM, new coach, new beginning. It marks a new era of Philadelphia hockey, one that they hope will yield the results that were the goal for the last era.